The digital takeover: document and evidence management are under pressure

The digital takeover: document and evidence management are under pressure
June 16, 2015

Let's face it. Filing cabinets can be more frustrating than functional in an era where 21st century document management is critical. How would you like it if you had to use a filing cabinet for management of evidence or support binders?

Many of the reporting professionals we've spoken to talk about the pressing need for an update to the systems they use for collecting and organizing the documents that support their work.

Reduced reliance on hard copies is the first step toward more efficient and sustainable business productivity. Digitizing the process makes it all quicker and more secure—because we all know doing so by hand can be a mess.

If you've ever needed to verify a few numbers or track down evidence of your internal controls, you would have to dig through binders of support to find the source document and then make enough copies to go around for all of the approvals needed through the process.

Shared drives were a small step up. But they also leave a lot to be desired. Why? Well, the check-in, check-out method doesn't work very well when you have a lot of people in the system. The extraneous copies that start to float around after someone makes an edit for one version—but not the master version—can be a nightmare too.

The key components for a smarter document management system include:

  • Simplicity
    People need a simple way to drag and drop different files and keep them associated with specific parts of the report, including Word®, Excel®, PDF, image files, and others.

  • Collaboration
    The ability to send requests for documents to colleagues in an organized, simple manner is critical. The system should also monitor outstanding requests in dashboards that inform at a glance.

  • Modernization
    Scanned files, receipts, snail mail, and hand-written notes aren't going away anytime soon. But we can modernize them by bringing them into the digital world with annotations and markups that give context within electronic reports.

  • Sharing
    We realize that paper remains important for a majority of reporting processes. The ability to quickly share an entire reporting package—source files, substantiating evidence, commentary, footnotes, etc.—can make or break a deadline. But attachments and markup tools aren't worth much if you can't do anything with them.

We see these needs in all sorts of reporting processes, such as evidence management for SOX compliance, support binders for SEC reporting teams, and for general use as a convenient attachment option.

Solving problems

Virtually, every report created is a summation of disparate pieces of information. Many teams find ways around these document management challenges every day, but few have found a way that acts as a unified system instead of documents and files spread across desktops, inboxes, and flash drives.

Luckily, the shift to digitizing document management is closer than you might think. See what's in store for the future of substantiation and document evidence right here.

Microsoft Word and Excel are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
Mike Sellberg

About the author

Mike Sellberg is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Workiva. He is the former EVP and CTO at iMed Studios and the former Divisional General Manager at Engineering Animation, Inc.